Capitalism + Climate = Catastrophe 2050
V. 0.1, build=1; init 191012, last update 191012 This draft page offers my personal introduction.
The title above refers to Chapter 3 of Book 1 of Winston Chruchill’s chilling The Gathering Storm, volume 1, chapter 3 of a 6 volume memior of World War II. This insightful memoir, along with John Maynard Keynes’s prescient The Economic Consequences of the Peace, provide analogs to my dreaded speculative scenario: the coming catastophic collision of capitalism and climate. This dystopian vision guides this project. Welcome. Buckle up.
After retiring from college teaching at Ramapo College of New Jersey as Professor Emeritus of Sustainability on Jul 1, 2015, I did not resign from my mission, stated steadfastly maintained since themand steadfastly maintained since themin 2007 as my Statement of Concern. Staffing needs called on me to offer courses on the politicical economy of world sustainbility and a survey cousr, so I stuc k to the curriular objectives.
You may still peruse my courses:
Two themes, however, came to dominate my study: capitalism and climate. I considered that the trajectory of these two mighty global forces might collide sooner and harder than anticipated, for reasons that I will explain as this projeecct unfolds.
Thus, I put my voice forward as a harbinger of a gathering storm that will test the resilience and the virtue of our species. Our current inhabitation of Earth now collides with the burgeoning of life, toward ecocide such a mass extinction. Further, trends such as inequality, insecurity, and gross indignity fail to disclose the opportunity cost to further the development of the human civilization, and the human soul.
The end state transcends the means of sustainability tending toward the end of the exuberance of Life on Earth. Vladimir Vernadsky, after an encounter with Teilhard de Chardin in Paris in 1929, put it well: “The biosphere is the cradle of the noosphere. ” Indeed.
The challenge, as I see it, must tame capitalism as a toolkit toward the ends of embracing Life on Earth and promoting the development of the soul of humanity. My primary focus projects a decentralized civic-enlivened reinhabitation, thriving (not hunkering) in place as cosmopolitan regionalism, following the lead of Lewis Mumford, Sir Patrick Geddes, John Maynard Keynes, and my deceased dear friends and colleagues, Murray Bookchin and Trent Schroyer.
My speculative scenario suggests that although the means are at hand to avoid a civilizational calamity, the meager, fragmented efforts to respond will be too little, too late. Greta Thunberg captured this spirit well at her speech at the U.N. Further, the absence of leadership will be superceded by active but hidden attempts to thwart responses that interfere with corporate profitability. Many, certainly not all, of these privileged, legally protected firms will not act as citizens (an absurd designation of the US Supreme Court) but as leviathans plundering and exploiting unimpeded by the organs of government that they capture to do their bidding. Game over.
My challenge, then, attempts to grapple with the potential and limits of capitalism, which will not be (nor should be) overthrown, but adapted appropriately to generate solutions rather than plunder for greed. My guess is that such an outcome will emerge partially, but way late. Public policy will dither but perhaps muddle incrementally toward solutions. Civil society, social capital formation, and engaged dcitizenship might respond in time, with impactful actions toward a rescue. Maybe. Be empowered: think globally and strategically, but act locally, and tactically. Now.